UPDATED: Maxime Bernier among hundreds at anti-lockdown protest in Waterloo on Sunday
Waterloo Town Square saw hundreds of anti-lockdown protestors gather on the afternoon of June 6 to condemn face mask-wearing, COVID-19 health protocols instilled by the government and local business closures.
The provincial stay-at-home order for Ontario is no longer in effect; however, public gatherings consisting of over five people are still prohibited.
Anti-lockdown rallies have been held at Waterloo Town Square every Sunday since April.
A number of speakers were present at the event — which was advertised as the “True North Freedom Assembly” — including People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier; Kevin Dupuis, who is now the People’s Party of Canada candidate for Kitchener-Conestoga; and University of Waterloo chemistry professor Michael Palmer.
Few people in attendance were wearing masks or physical distancing.
As of May 18, according to bylaw officials, at least 27 charges have been laid in connection to anti-mask rallies being held in Waterloo.
Despite the alleged Waterloo Regional Police presence at the protest, no additional charges have been laid at this time.
According to Ontario’s current COVID-19 restrictions, those who do not follow the guidelines regarding outdoor gatherings could face significant fines.
“Organizers may be fined a minimum of $10,000; each attendee may receive a $750 ticket; enforcement personnel may break up the gathering or temporarily close the premise,” Ontario’s current COVID-19 public health measures and advice states.
The protest took place during the wake of mounting concerns regarding a potential fourth wave of cases linked to the latest COVID-19 variant, B1617, in Waterloo region.
Ontario reported 663 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and currently, more than one million Ontarians have been fully vaccinated.
“We are on the cusp of moving out of wave three of the pandemic, by stopping the spread of the virus. It is beyond shocking that someone would think that this is a good time for a political campaign rally,” Dave Jaworsky, City of Waterloo mayor said in an email statement.
“There were so many out-of-towners who will now go back to their city after mingling maskless with people from other cities. Organizers will be held accountable under the law, and through the investigation, they can expect charges to be laid, as done for other illegal gatherings,” Jaworsky concluded.
More information to come.